Two-Stage Contests with Budget Constraints: An Experimental Study
Journal of Mathematical Psychology, Vol. 49, pp. 320-338, 2005
19 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2004 Last revised: 24 Feb 2008
We report the results of an experiment on two-stage contests with budget-constrained agents competing to win an exogenously determined prize. We study a class of two-stage contests where in stage 1 agents first compete within their own groups by expending resources, and in stage 2 the winners of each group compete with one another to win the prize by expending additional resources subject to the budget constraint. Winners in each stage are determined by Tullock's proportional contest success function. We present the subgame perfect equilibrium solution for this model, derive predictions for our experiment, and then test them experimentally. The equilibrium model is flatly rejected mostly due to over expenditure in stage 1. A descriptive model that extends the equilibrium solution by allowing for 1) non-pecuniary utility of winning and 2) misperception of the probability of winning better accounts for some but not all of the behavioral regularities. We then turn to an adaptive learning model that accounts for several features of the dynamics of play but still significantly under-predicts the stage 1 expenditures.
Keywords: Two-stage, rent-seeking, tournament, contest, EWA, experiment
JEL Classification: C72, C78, D81
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation